Spring Equinox (Higan): What does it mean by Japan holiday in Buddhism?

Hello. Please call me kay.

In Japan, there is a week called O-Higan “お彼岸” as a traditional spring and autumn event.

It is a unique weekend in Japan, but people who do not know what kind of meaning even the Japanese is the are many.

I am a Buddhist monk and I will explain about Higan.

Higan is an event related to Buddhism (Jodo Shinshu).

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When is Higan?

Spring Higan is a period of a week in which the day of spring equinox is the middle day.

Autumnal Higan is centered on Autumnal Equinox Day.

The spring equinox of 2018 is March 21. The autumnal equinox day of 2018 is September 23.

O-Higan week 2018
First dayMiddle day
Last day
March 18March 21March 24
September 20September 23September 26

In Japan, not considering only spring equinox day and autumnal equinox day as Higan, we cherish it as entering Higan from the first day.

What kind of day is the Higan? 

The day in the middle of the Higan (Vernal Equinox Day / Autumnal Equinox Day) is a national holiday in Japan.

So it is a day off work in Japan, and it is a day that I can spend with my family.

Many Japanese have been mistaken the day of visiting to a grave, but it is a mistake.

Higan is a period for the purpose of recalling the deceased.

And it is the day to reflect on oneself and to hear Buddhism.

Listening to Buddhism in the temple to O-higan

The above phote shows the event at the temple on Higan.

A Buddhist missionary talks about Buddhism to the person who came to the temple.

What is the relationship with Buddhism?

What is the meaning of Higan?

Higan is written in Kanji (Chinese characters) and it becomes the letters 彼 and 岸.

The meaning of Higan is the other bank of the river.

There is Shigan”此岸” as the opposite word to Higan.

The meaning of Shigan is about our living world.

In other words, Higan means the world of Buddha, the world of Pure Land.

Equinoctial week (Higan) is from the thought of the Jodo Shinshu.

Since the Higan is a day of autumn equinox and spring equinoxes, the sun rises from the due east and sets in the due west.

Day time and night time are about the same day.

Buddhism’s preaching midway (Chudou), the day which is not biased toward either is Higan.

Although it will be a technical story, in the Buddhist Scripture of the Jodo Shinshu”浄土真宗”, a method to see the Pure Land of Amida Buddha is introduced.

In Jodo Shinshu, in the direction sinking of the sun since ancient times it was believed that there is a Pure Land of Amida Buddha.

The Japanese thought that the period (Equinoctial week) of sunset in the due west is the best time.

Why is the Higan is important?

Contemporary Japanese people thinks that Higan is a time of visiting a grave.

But that is not right.

Japanese people today are losing their views on religion.

There is no problem not to believe in a specific religion, it is a very serious problem that no longer recollect or thank my ancestors.

The number of Japanese who go to religious facilities such as tombs and temples is decreasing.

The time of Higan is a few opportunities for Japanese people to remember their ancestors and touch Buddhism.

On Equinox days, there are temples and Buddhist events

The monks are chanting sutra.

In the temple the buddhist monk is doing Buddhist memorial service (Higan-event).

The Higan (equinoctial week) is an important time to look at yourself by imagining the world of Buddha.

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Finally.Higan (spring equinox / autumnal equinox) is the customs peculiar to Japan.

Higan is twice a year in spring and autumn.

It is when the climate is stable and it is easy to go to the temple and tomb.

It is not a special reason just that the time of day and night is the same and that the sun sets in the due west.

The thought of the Buddhist Pure Land which was transmitted to Japan became a custom to remember his ancestors.

Knowing the connection with the deceased is a tremendous opportunity of the Higan, so it is stipulated that it is an important day as a national holiday in Japan.

→Japanese version page ” お彼岸にお参りするところはお墓だけ?

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